Thursday, December 23, 2010

Another Source for Silicone Nose Pads

Now here is a cheap stocking stuff for Christmas. Well, it might actually get lost in the stocking since it is so small. Thanks to Reader Kurt, we now have another source for silicone, boot-style nose pads. Kurt found these nose pads priced at $4 a pair at Nose Pad King online. Neither Kurt nor I have used them, but you may want to check them out.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Doing It Right: Mary and Her Pince-Nez

Last week I received a great email from Mary who is new to the world of pince-nez. Shown above she is modeling her rimless fingerpiece which she just loves. And she should as it looks wonderful on her! She also had another fingerpiece mounted with prescription sunglass lenses.

Mary is a role model for those who want to get started with pince-nez. From her story, I want to point out the steps she took in getting her glasses.

  • Mary went on eBay and purchased a number of pince-nez mountings. She bought five hoop springs and four fingerpiece mountings. This variety helps immensely in determining the proper size and preference in style.
  • She bought an assortment of silicone nose pads and tried on the pince-nez with the pads. These pads are essential for comfort and security.
  • She had her optician copy the dimensions of the original pince-nez lenses for her regular glasses above. Most opticians incorrectly steer customers towards lenses which are too large for pince-nez. Mary stuck to the classic dimensions above. For sunglasses below, she opted for larger lenses.

So what stimulated Mary's interest in pince-nez? She ran across this eyewear during her study of clothing worn during the Civil War era.

Welcome to the world of pince-nez and congratulations on taking the proper steps.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Installment IV: "The Mechanics of Fitting Glasses"

This is our fourth and final installment in "The Mechanics of Fitting Glasses" series. Please remember that these installments are for historical purposes only. Depending on your browser, you may have to reload the screen. We have highlighted definitions or terms in yellow and added comments in red.

Today's installment covers loose screws and mounting rimless lenses. Click [here] for the fourth installment.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Pince-Nez Terminology Trivia

Some Renaissance readers may be a bit obsessive about using correct terms like my colleague, the oft quoted Mr. Johnson. While much of the following has been covered in previous posts, you will find this summary interesting and informative.

  • Pince-nez, pronounced pahns-nay, is French and literally means pinch-nose. The term is singular although the plural is the same.
  • The wording "pair of pince-nez" is wrong as pince-nez is singular.
  • Pince-nez should never be called spectacles. Eyeglasses is the proper term. From the 1860's to the early 1930's, eyeglasses and spectacles had distinct meanings. Eyeglasses were pince-nez and spectacles had temples or arms.
  • Eyewear was unisex until the late 1930's.
  • Pince-nez nose pads are properly called nose guards or nose guard grips. Nose pads on this site refer to silicone "boot style" pads which can be applied over the nose guards for a more comfortable and secure fit of the pince-nez to the wearer's nose bridge.
  • Pince-nez mounting vs. pince-nez frame. If a pince-nez is rimless, it is a mounting. If a pince-nez has rims for lenses, it is a frame.

We hope that the above may be of some interest to you and that it clears up some terminology confusion.

Again, it is most important to search the "Annotated Table of Contents" on the left side of this site. Keep the comments coming!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

A Note to Readers

My colleague and I agree on most things concerning pince-nez. However, we will disagree on rare occasion. He has been hounding me endlessly to post the following which in my opinion is repetitive. We all know that to get an individual off your back, it's easier at times just to comply. It is a proven method which works equally well with both terrorists and children.

Without further ado, I present the following text;

"We at the Pince-Nez Renaissance appreciate your email questions and want to help you as much as possible. It would help greatly if you describe the type of pince-nez you wear or would like to wear. Is it rimless or rimmed? Is it ia fingerpiece, hoop spring, Oxford or Astig? Naturally, a photo, as the old saying goes, is "worth a thousand words." Please remember, our purpose is to help you.

If you are confused by the terminology, please read the sections listed in our annotated table of contents."

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Pince-Nez Sightings: "Colonel Redl"

This Hungarian movie made in 1985 was remarkable. It is based on the actual story of the Austrian intelligence chief prior to, and during World War I. Colonel Alfred Redl was played by Klaus Maria Brandauer. He started out as a devoted follower of the monarchy and attended a military academy. Sadly, he ended up a traitor as he was blackmailed by the Russians for being gay. It is a very moving work and I highly recommend seeing it.

This movie had its share of pince-nez wearers. Below are two stills taken from the movie. I don't find these styles particularly attractive but they add a great deal of character to the movie.

My favorite character in the movie was the sinister Archduke, played brilliantly by Armin Mueller-Stahl.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

A Pince-Nez Sphinx?

I admit, this blog has more than its share of FDR references. But then his hoop springs in old photos and newsreels started my own personal pince-nez path. He was one hell of a president and far superior to anything we've had since his last term in 1944.

The pince-nez sphinx is definitely one of the more interesting items in the FDR Library. It is a seven feet tall papier-mache sculpture that was presented to FDR at the 1939 Gridiron Dinner in Washington.

What is the meaning of the sphinx? In 1939 FDR had already served two terms as president. There was much speculation as to whether or not he would seek a third term. FDR kept his plans to himself, not announcing his intentions for some time.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Installment III: "The Mechanics of Fitting Glasses"

Today we present the third installment from Pettet's classic book "The Mechanics of Fitting Glasses." This installment focuses upon adjustments to mountings. Please remember that these installments are for historical purposes only. With the use of silicone nose pads, one does not need to have the precise fit as required when this book was written.

My colleague and I differ in opinion when it comes to making adjustments to the mounting. As someone with limited craftsmanship abilities, I leave mounting adjustments to my optician. My colleague is more adept with tinkering so he feels comfortable making his own adjustments. You'll have to determine which path you want to take.

Without further ado, I present the third installment from this great book. Click -here-. Depending on your browser, you may have to reload the screen. We have highlighted definitions or terms in yellow and added comments in red.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Installment II: "The Mechanics of Fitting Glasses"

Two weeks ago I posted the first installment from "The Mechanics of Fitting Glasses" by Robert Pettet (1913). Today is the second installment from this wonderful book.

Depending on your browser, you may have to reload the screen. We have highlighted definitions or terms in yellow and added comments in red. [click above] Please remember that these excerpts are for historical purposes only. Advances in eyewear (e.g., polycarbonate lenses, silicone nose pads) have made some information obsolete.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Revisiting the Old School Yearbook

Not LeDandy's yearbooks. Hell, I threw out my old high school yearbooks just after I graduated. I never regretted doing that as high school was the worst experience of my life. It was a prison for me. College? Arizona State University had about forty thousand students when I attended, which made yearbooks meaningless.

Earlier in the week I received some wonderful books from my colleague on the Pince-Nez Renaissance. Included in the shipment was a yearbook for Colby College in Waterville, Maine. The year.........1904! This was a golden era for pince-nez eyewear so this initially stimulated my interest. Then I started examining the book page by page. This yearbook was fascinating and I couldn't put it down.

Below is a photo of the Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity. A far cry from the "Animal House" style fraternities of today.

colby college fraternity
On to the pince-nez photos. Below is a photo of a young man wearing the hoop spring style popular in this time period. Note the ear chain for his eyeglasses. Back in this time lenses were made of glass. One fall and the lens would probably shatter, hence the security device. Also note that the other fellow in the photo is wearing a tuxedo with peak lapels. Many of the students wore tuxedos for their yearbook photo. The narratives for student photos are quite interesting.

colby college pince nez

The young man below wearing hoop springs also appears in the fraternity photo.

Women also wore pince-nez at this time. Note the beautiful hoop spring on the young woman below.

colby college pince nez
At the back of the yearbook I found local ads for businesses of the time. Naturally a shoe ad caught my interest.

Before you get excited about the price of shoes from 1904, you need to remember that wages were drastically lower than those of today. A skilled factory worker earned about eight dollars a week. A nice pair of shoes cost about half of his net pay. In relative terms, shoes are cheaper today though the quality is much inferior.
Note: this article is also posted on LeDandy (of Northern California)

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Kelley's New (Old Stock) Pince-Nez

Last month the Renaissance put up a post featuring Kelley wearing a fingerpiece. She recently had prescription lenses made for this beautiful mounting. The process of having lenses made for pince-nez can be quite trying, hence the number of warnings we give the reader when embarking on this eyewear. Kelley had her tribulations in this process but in the end it was well worth the effort.

What were some of the difficulties? As I've experienced, many opticians are reluctant or downright refuse to work on pince-nez. Kelley's optician sent her to a local jeweler to remove the old lenses from the mounting and install the new ones. Also, her new lenses appeared slightly larger than the original pair. The optical store said they threw out her old lenses when she wanted to compare the lenses

Finding a good optician is one of the toughest obstacles for the pince-nez enthusiast. Many stores will not work on them for reasons previously stated in other posts. The Renaissance will gladly advertise optical stores that are "pince-nez friendly." A few stores have taken advantage of this offer. Conversely, speak up if a store didn't treat you properly. In those cases, you may want to post a review on Yelp or another online review site. You may help others avoid an unworthy business.

Kelley's pince-nez adventure ended well. Or should I say, just started. With Kelley is her beautiful dog Tundra.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

The Pince-Nez Classroom, Installment I: "The Mechanics of Fitting Glasses"

Today is the first installment of the Renaissance's virtual classroom. As mentioned in our last post, the Renaissance will post selections from our library of eyewear books. Each installment will be only a few pages and will contain annotations of what we feel is noteworthy.

You must have the current version of Adobe Reader to view the installments. Adobe Reader is free and can be downloaded from their website.

Without further ado, the Renaissance presents the first installment from "The Mechanics of Fitting Glasses," by Robert Pettet (1913). Depending on your browser, you may have to reload the screen. We have highlighted definitions or terms in yellow and added comments in red. Please remember that these excerpts are for historical purposes only. Advances in eyewear (e.g., polycarbonate lenses, silicone nose pads) have made some information obsolete.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Book Reviews!

A book review on pince-nez? Yes, LeDandy recently received two wonderful books on pince-nez from his colleague. The first book we will discuss is The Mechanics of Fitting Glasses by Robert Pettet (1913). It is an excellent book for the layman and covers the complete spectrum of topics related to this style of eyewear.

LeDandy will present certain chapters in upcoming posts which he believes will be helpful for the pince-nez enthusiast. Lets be realistic, a book on eyewear is not like reading an exciting novel. The material in this book, and others, will be presented in digestible portions.

Is it necessary to understand these books to wear pince-nez? Apparently not as LeDandy has worn pince-nez for the last two years on a full-time basis. However, these books are important as they are the only sources for knowledge held by experts in this eyewear. The true experts trained in pince-nez are no longer with us as this style faded from mainstream use in the 1940s.

Please keep in mind that a huge evolutionary step happened after this book. Silicone nose pads. With this wonderful accessory, one can wear pince-nez with much greater comfort and security. Also, there is much more allowance for fit with nose pads.

Below are some scans from the book. Future presentations will be in Adobe pdf format.

Monday, September 20, 2010

LeDandy Meets Lisa Birnbach

Lisa Birnbach, as in the author of The Official Preppy Handbook and her latest work, True Prep. LeDandy, your obedient servant, met her at a book signing in San Francisco today. We exchanged autographs. She signed a copy of True Prep, and LeDandy signed a charge slip. As you you can see in this photo, LeDandy wore his fingerpiece for the occasion.

What relationship exists between pince-nez and the world of prep? All I can tell you is that Ms. Birnbach was extremely charming and I look forward to reading her book.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

The Renaissance Welcomes Kelley to Pince-Nez

Kelley from the state of Washington sent the Renaissance an email last week discussing her start with pince-nez. It is a very interesting read. Below is the text of her email:


"I want to thank you for your blog about pince-nez. What a treasure trove of information.

I recently found out that I needed glasses and the choices of eyewear were a bit overwhelming. I went to different eyewear stores and did searches online. I couldn't even begin to choose a frame that suited me. I started thinking maybe antique eyewear would be more suitable. So I started doing internet searches. That is how I found your Pince-Nez Renaissance and knew I had found the type of eyewear I wanted. The information on your blog was very helpful.

My next thought was where on earth am I going to find a pair and would they work for me. I was so fortunate in that. My first stop was an online auction website. I typed in pince-nez and was surprised by all the auctions that popped up. Long story short. I won, with an uncontested bid, a lot of womens pince-nez that consisted of four pair of fingerpiece and one pair of hoop. Two pair of the fingerpiece were even more surprising. They fit my bridge and were my prescription. The pair I am wearing in the attached photo I had checked at my eyeclinic and they verified my belief. I am having one of the other fingerpiece fitted with my prescription but in polycarbonate lenses for more durablility.

I am more than pleased with my pince-nez for their minimal feel and look on my face to their classic uniqueness. I love that they are truly jewelry for my nose and the chained hair pin is so much fun. Your blog is very helpful and is a Godsend."

Kelley is off to a great start. Our thanks to Kelley for sharing her story with us.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Which Type of Pince-Nez is Best for Me?

This is a question sometimes posed by those emailing the Renaissance and it is a valid one.

The authors of this blog full-time, pince-nez wearers and are devoted to the rimless style. While this style suits almost everyone, others may not like the minimalist appearance and may want a mounting which is more conspicuous.

Any pince-nez makes a bold statement showing everyone that your eyeglasses mark you as rugged individualist who follows his/her own path. If you choose to wear a pince-nez, whether it befingerpiece, hoop spring, astig clip, oxford or any other type: rimless or rimmed ---- great! As long as it is comfortable and remains securely attached to the bridge of the nose, you'll be fine.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Curly in Pince-Nez

LeDandy loves starting the weekend mornings with a Three Stooges video or two. This morning I watched the classic clip All the World's a Stooge (1941). In this short, the boys are mistaken for refugee children by a rich a couple. Preposterous? Absolutely. But that is the beauty of the Stooges.

In the beginning of the short, Curly pulls a tooth while he is playing a dentist. To do the dental work, Curly puts on his pince-nez with ribbon cord. Please note that Curly is not wearing his pince-nez properly as it shouldn't be so far down on his nose.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

LeDandy and Cat

LeDandy hasn't forgotten about this blog. He's been quite busy with his main blog, LeDandy (of Northern California). Today I experimented with the self-timer on my camera and came up with this unusual lighting, highlighting my pince-nez.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Increased Interest in Pince-Nez

The Renaissance is very pleased to report a large increase in both the amount of "readers" and emails received in the past several weeks. We were thrilled to receive Karl's great story and striking photos. His classic, rimless fingerpiece pince-nez certainly enhances his looks!

There have been several other emails reporting similar success stories by those who have acquired a pince-nez. They have expressed great enthusiasm regarding comfort and fit. We appreciate their willingness to share their stories and photos, which are often posted on this blog. We urge others to do likewise. The Renaissance exists to help you. We feel that we are doing our job successfully when we receive such glowing praise from readers.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Karl's Pince-Nez Story

The Renaissance recently received a great story and some photos from Karl in New York. He is new to the world of pince-nez and his story is most encouraging. It speaks for itself so I'll give you the pertinent portion of his email:

"I would like to begin by thanking you for your fantastic resource. If it wasn't for Pince-Nez Renaissance, I would never have been able to obtain all the information necessary to have my own pince-nez, a dream based heavily on my two heroes from the past, Teddy Roosevelt and G.K. Chesterton. It certainly was a long journey, but one well worth it.

I know you have often mentioned the problems with purchasing off eBay, but I just couldn't resist bidding on what appeared to be a lot containing two fingerpiece pince-nez in perfect condition (along with 4 other random spectacles in poor condition from the 1940s -50s). At the time the auction was set to end, I was on line for a roller coaster at an amusement park, I borrowed a family member's Blackberry and managed to snipe the auction last minute. I got the whole lot for under $30 with shipping. After receiving the package I immediately tried on one of the pince-nez, they were a perfect fit. I couldn't believe my luck.

Then of course came the tricky part, finding an optician who would make new lenses. At the first place I visited the receptionist looked at me as though I was crazy, and proceeded to call the optician into the room. He looked at the pince-nez and immediately said "No, I won't do that" and walked away without another word. I was discouraged, but kept on trying.

I was given polite turn downs at several other outfits before I was finally greeted with "I collect antique eyeglasses as well, I'll do anything to help." The entire office knew me by name after a week of phone calls about the best way to get the project done (I needed a special index lens, which would have otherwise have been too thick). [Sacco Eye Group] So, after one failed attempt with scratched lens, and about 4 weeks of work, I finally managed to get my pince-nez on my face and out the door."

Karl has been wearing his pince-nez for over eight months. I am very impressed with his determination in finding an optician. Unfortunately, many opticians refuse to work with pince-nez, as Karl found out. Then again, there are the uncommon ones who welcome the challenge of working with this eyewear.

Also, I am intrigued by his motivation for wearing pince-nez. Teddy Roosevelt is one of the best known wearers of the hoop spring style, but G.K. Chesterton made me do a little research. His photo is below. Regardless of your role models, this eyewear flatters most faces and is quite practical.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Pince-Nez in Paris

You may not see pince-nez worn by people on every street corner in Paris, but this eyewear style appears to be better received in France than in the US. LeDandy recently received a thoughtful letter from a pince-nez enthusiast in Paris. According to his account, many opticians in Paris are capable and motivated to work with pince-nez mountings. This is in sharp contrast to my personal experiences and those of my colleague.

Our Paris reader wears pince-nez, and like myself, can't imagine wearing any other eyeglass style.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

A Fresh Look at the Astig

Courtesy of Ed in Los Angeles. LeDandy has shown a strong bias in this blog towards hoop springs and fingerpieces styles of pince-nez. Thanks to Ed, I'm taken a new look at the Astig as a pince-nez suitable for everyday wear. He was kind enough to write an email to the Renaissance discussing his experience.

The following is taken from his email. A very interesting read!


"My decision to purchase astigs was the result of a lot of discernment. My high astigmatic Rx (cylinder over 7 diopters in both eyes) disqualified some styles (flexible guards, hoop springs), which didn't bother me too much. And I was quite taken with the modern minimalism of rimless fingerpieces , but after a lot of thought, decided against them for a few reasons:

  1. I didn't want to have to buy many pairs before finding a few that would provide a suitable fit;
  2. I didn't want to deal with the hassle of finding an optician willing to make adjustments. Certainly the fingerpiece itself would need adjusting - the bridge of my nose was broken at an early age in an accident and didn't heal correctly, and eyeglasses have consequently had a pronounced tilt on me for years, even with considerable wrangling by opticians. If opticians were always bothered to make my regular frames fit, I can only imagine their reticence at dealing with something like a pince nez;
  3. The high diopter of the cylinder in the Rx means the profile of the lenses will be greatly visible, even with high-index lenses, and this ruins the minimalism. I could have opted for polished edges, giving them an ice-blocky "Sarah Palin"-ish look, which does have some appeal. But edge-polishing already creates semi-circular reflections in the the lower part of the field of vision. At my Rx, these are significant enough to impair vision. I know this from experience, having run into the problem before with modern semi-rimless frames.

So I settled on astigs. After much eBay lurking, I won/purchased an experimental pair ($30 shipped from the UK), and rather liked how they looked on me, so I went with them. True to their intent, wearing astigs with an astigmatic prescription has worked quite well!! Certainly, these will see alternation with my current pair of Windsors; but it's nice to have variety.

They're secure enough in fit with the QTE pads not to require the safety chain they came with (which is great as a curiosity but looks a bit strange on me in real life), but will mostly likely see their greatest use in the office or on the bus in less itinerant circumstances. And the muted 10k gold tone? Blends in nicely with my skin-tone, so friends/family didn't know I was wearing glasses until they got closer."


Ed makes an eloquent case for the Astig and supports it with a very flattering picture. Yes, you should consider the Astig among possible choices if you are thinking about pince-nez. They are especially well-suited for strong prescriptions and they are much more forgiving in obtaining a proper fit. This style is an important member of the pince-nez family.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Should You Wear Pince-Nez?

Probably not.

This is a shocking statement to make on the Renaissance. However, I do feel obligated to advise readers that pince-nez eyewear presents many challenges. Anyone casually interested in this style for full-time use can easily be discouraged and he/she most likely will not succeed. You must have a very strong desire to wear pince-nez. If you do have that passion, then I suggest you proceed knowing some of the possible barriers in your path. I considered giving up at one point as my first mounting proved an improper fit.

The distinguished eyewear style is definitely worth the effort if you are truly devoted.

What are the potential obstacles facing someone interested in wearing pince-nez? The primary challenges involve time, money and public image. A newcomer to pince-nez should consider the following:

1. The proper mounting - Antique pince-nez are abundant in the marketplace at a very reasonable cost and most are perfectly functional. The problem lies in finding a mounting of the correct size for your nose. If one buys off of eBay, there is no guarantee of fit. A proper size can be hard to find and you will likely acquire many pince-nez which do not fit. Prices vary from $25 and up on eBay to several hundred dollars from an boutique optical store.

I have a nose bridge of average width and I'm lucky if one-fifth of the mountings I've tried on actually fit me.

2. Prescription lenses for your mounting - Many opticians are reluctant to work on pince-nez. Of those who will make lenses, not all of them will work with you after the sale. It is very important to find an optician who will make adjustments to your eyeglasses once the lenses are made, as is done with ordinary spectacles. Expect to pay at least $200+ for lenses, and more if you have a complex prescription.

I used a boutique optical store for my first pince-nez and they did not work with me on adjustments after the sale. I learned a valuable lesson.

3. Fear of negative public perception - "People will think I am odd or strange for wearing these glasses." I'm sure this thought occurs to anyone considering pince-nez for daily wear. Unfortunately the answer is sometimes yes. Some people will consider you eccentric or odd for wearing this eyewear style. However this is the situation with anyone who is "fashion forward" and pursues his/her own look. The bold and innovative people have their share of critics as well as admirers.

I am lucky in that the Bay Area tolerates a diversity of dress. Pince-nez is quite mild in terms of variation for this region. If you live in a less diversified setting and/or hold a job where you have a public image, then you should carefully consider the possible impact of wearing pince-nez on a full-time basis.

I've received many compliments and positive comments regarding my own wear of pince-nez. On the other hand, I realize there are others who view these eyeglasses as odd. These people will almost certainly not voice their opinions to you.

If you are willing to make a commitment to pince-nez, then I urge you to proceed.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Who Wore Pince-Nez?

Historically speaking, it was the upper strata of society who wore pince-nez during the heyday of this eyewear in the early twentieth century. There are many photos of politicians, leaders of finance, artists and intellectuals wearing pince-nez to remind us of this time. Theodore and Franklin Roosevelt come to mind. FDR's cabinet seemed to favor pince-nez as well, as discussed in a prior post. College students at Ivy League schools also had a fondness for these glasses. A survey of the 1911 Brown University yearbook revealed that of those who wore glasses, about seventy percent chose pince-nez.

This post looks at two questions.

1. Why was pince-nez the preferred style of eyewear in the early twentieth century?

The answer can be found easily in the advertising of the era. At left is an ad which summarizes the essence of pince-nez's appeal. "The most inconspicuous glasses you can wear, " the ad proclaims. Eyewear at this point in history was not seen as a fashion item but as a medical necessity that detracted from one's appearance. Hence the minimalism of pince-nez was truly appreciated.

2. What barriers prevented all social classes from wearing pince-nez?

The obvious and correct answer was cost. Unlike templed eyewear, pince-nez required a precise fit with the proper sized mounting by a specially trained optician. Templed glasses have always been much more forgiving in terms of fit and do not require the expertise of an optician possessing a special set of skills. Also, pince-nez mountings had a variety of sizes in each model to fit different facial dimensions whereas spectacles did not have this burdensome requirement.* The economics of eyewear clearly favored templed glasses.

Pince-nez was simply too expensive for opticians to administer. Naturally these costs were passed along to the consumer. Only the well-to-do could afford the expense of being fitted with pince-nez.


*See post on fitting sets.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Pince-Nez in Chicago

The Renaissance recently received an email from Labrabbit Optics in Chicago. As you may recall, we wrote a post on this store back in June of 2009. According to the owner, they now have a dozen or so pince-nez in stock. If you are in the Chicago area, it would be a good idea to check them out.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

If You Don’t See It, Ask For It!

Several Renaissance emails in recent months from readers have talked about the unavailability of pince-nez eyeglasses at any opticians. This situation is to be expected as the last real mountings were made sometime in the 1930s. As we've mentioned here, your best bet is to buy the mounting online or from an antique store, and then have an optician make prescription lenses.

A reader of the Renaissance recently informed us that an optician in New York still has a few pince-nez mountings available! This situation is quite rare and typically happens only with a store that has been in the same location for a century or more.

In the reader's case, the optician said they had no pince-nez in stock and that they were no longer made. Our reader was quite resourceful and had the courage to ask the optician to check their “old” stock. This material is often hidden away in the basement or in a seldom used cabinet containing “bits and pieces.” Quite often a few rimless fingerpiece or hoop spring mountings may be mixed in with assorted rimless spectacle bridges, etc. In some cases rimmed pince-nez may turn up too.

My colleague in the past has lucked out in the past in this regard and has obtained rimless pince-nez mountings for short money just by asking them to look. If the optician has occupied the same premises for decades you are more apt to be lucky. Very often, if they have moved in recent years, much of the long neglected, long forgotten “new” old stock has vanished.

If the optician seems even the least bit interested in your request, suggest that he/she take a serious and detailed look at Pince-Nez Renaissance. We are pleased to assist readers and businesses who are interested in the practical use of pince-nez.

It doesn’t cost anything to ask and your reward may be priceless, as in one reader's case.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Vintage Portrait Photographs and Pince-Nez

There's nothing more effective in demonstrating the true beauty of pince-nez eyeglasses than vintage portrait photographs of attractive people wearing them. You will find more than 150 of these photos on Search under pince-nez and you will be amply rewarded. You may learn some interesting history as there is much factual information under the photo descriptions.

LeDandy highly recommends checking out his colleague's Flickr site for an amazing collection of vintage pince-nez photos. While I look ahead, there is a great deal of inspiration from these photos.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Letter from a Reader

Last week I received a great letter from Thomas, a pince-nez enthusiast in South Africa. It is a very thoughtful letter and he has some interesting points.

"I have had the pleasure of wearing glasses from the tender age of 4, back when some frames were still made from what felt like cast iron. Having lived my whole life with glasses, contact lenses have always made me feel naked and vulnerable to some extent. I still remember the first time wearing them, feeling like I was walking around in my underwear!!

At any rate, I have been thinking about trying pince nez for a long time - but I had no idea as to where to start looking or even if they would be comfortable to wear. Once the desire to try them was intense enough, I threw myself on the net and found copious pairs of them, but again, I still had no idea what these glasses were about, how comfortable they were, and if you could even wear them as replacements to regular glasses. (let alone what the width of my bridge was or how to attempt to measure it!?)

And then I came across your site, a true treasure chest of information. With so much dubious and really bad sales info out there, it is truly a discovery to come across a page like yours: devoted to offering real information free, on top of which offering advice and personal experience. WOW! There is so much on your blog about all aspects of pince nez, you really helped me to find my way around, evaluate the pairs I found, and most of all, helping me to realize that I had to try them on and not just order them off the net (I live in South Africa, so return policies would have killed my pocket!).

After searching all local antiques stores, I found a perfectly fitting pair (fixed bridge). Then I had glasses made, and embarked on the adventure of using them. They were good, but still not perfect - the metal would slip of my nose when I was sweating, and living in South Africa, this is not a small problem. Again, you came with the solution: silicone boots!

Walking around with pince nez it seems optometrists are only to happy to help you out, and I found a pair of booties free of charge at a local store, and wow, they now stick to my face like glue. I forget I am wearing glasses nowadays, and that is truly amazing.

--On a side note: with silicone booties, the fixed bridge should be a little wider if possible, as the silicone adds about 1mm thickness to the frames---luckily my pair fits perfectly with the booties as well.

I am now thinking of changing the glasses to photo-cromatic lenses, as the frame is so comfortable and invisible, I do not want to carry around more glasses anymore. More than that, any other pair of glasses feels heavy and clunky compared to the comfort of pince nez!"

There are a few points I'd like to discuss. First, I am pleasantly surprised to read that many South African opticians are interested in assisting pince-nez wearers. This comment by Thomas is in sharp contrast to my experiences, as well as most other pince-nez wearers here in the US, who have not had positive interactions with opticians regarding pince-nez. Secondly, Thomas points out that he wears silicone nose pads for added comfort and security. The nose pads are especially helpful in South Africa's humid climate. As Thomas notes, the nose guards of the mounting should be a little wider to accommodate the width of the nose pads.

A very inspiring letter. The Renaissance is grateful for Thomas's letter and we wish him the best of luck with his eyewear.

Monday, February 1, 2010

A Note to Our Readers

The Pince-Nez Renaissance is a unique resource and the only site devoted to modern day wear of pince-nez eyeglasses.

A great deal of work and resources have gone into the construction of this site to make it both informative and "user friendly." We believe that most of your inquires can be answered if you take the time to check the table of contents.

We are happy and eager to help you in any way which will further your desire to acquire and wear a pince-nez. We believe that most of your inquires can be answered if you take the time to check the table of contents. The detailed information on this blog is unavailable anywhere else.

One of the main purposes of the Pince-Nez Renaissance is to dispel the many myths and erroneous information which exists. This incorrect information is glaringly evident elsewhere on the web. Modern opticians have very little or no knowledge about this beautiful type of eyewear.

The Pince-Nez Renaissance welcomes and encourages your to send us your story for publication regarding your quest for this perfect type of solution to visual correction. Your photos wearing a pince-nez are also welcome.

Again, any of your questions concerning pince-nez not previously covered will be happily addressed by email or a future post. The Pince-Nez Renaissance exists to help you.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

A Word on Security Devices

The picture is one reason why many people link pince-nez with a security cord. In this great portrait of Theodore Roosevelt, his hoop spring is attached to a security cord secured on his jacket. Back in his day, one fall of the pince-nez and the fragile glass lenses were almost guaranteed to shatter. LeDandy admits that even his well-fitted hoop springs have fallen off his face on very few occasions.* Hence there was a practical reason to wear a security device a hundred years ago.

Shown below are three common types of security devices: the hairpin, the ear loop and the retractable cord (by Ketcham-McDougall). I do not have a chain attached to the ear loop but one would be present if worn.

The Ketcham-McDougall retractable cord is a beautiful and highly functional item even after a hundred years. As I've said in previous posts, the craftsmanship and materials of the old days are generally far superior to anything found today. The case is about the size of a quarter and the cord can be locked in place.

The ear loop was addressed in a previous post.

Thanks to modern plastic lenses, there is no longer a need for a security cord. Plastic lenses can survive almost any fall. Security devices make wonderful collectibles and they have their place in the theater for historical plays. However, LeDandy believes that one would look quite silly wearing a cord these days with pince-nez.
*LeDandy's fingerpiece has never fallen off his nose and he wears this style regularly, alternating with hoop springs.


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